A Month on a Bike in Colombia - 2019

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Champe, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Here is the beach on the other side of the marina in Santa Marta - not too shabby.
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    Same view, only closer to the distant beach. That one is a white sand beach that I tried to get to. Unfortunately it is on the back side of a military base.
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    I like boats. And I am also curious about how people make their livings - the ones who really work. This is a local fishing boat.
    We eat what they catch.
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    Check out this construction. It is how the paddle is connected to the shaft. A row of nails with bottle caps to prevent the nail from pulling through. Costs nothing, but it's a lot of work.
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    And here are some guys unloading their catch of the day.
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    All the above is on the second beach - more of a workman's beach
    #61
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  2. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    These are the only other gringos, I mean extrajeneros, with motorcycles, that I met on the entire trip. They are Americans that bought used BMWs from other world travelers, in Colombia. The bikes were well used, with lots of farkles. I did not recognize the plates but they were not US or Colombian. The guys were only at the hostel overnight, heading for the Northern desert of Colombia next.
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    Their other bike
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    #62
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  3. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    At the South end of the city is a very nice road to Rodadero. Next to this road is a fancy piece of infrastructure - a walkway/bike path in the sky. Does this look like the third world to you ?
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    I missed posting this photo of a chute to the ocean at the opposite end of town
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    #63
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  4. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Ok - I think Santa Marta is covered. Time to go exploring. The first destination is Rodadero, only a half hour ride to the South. Very popular for people with money.
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    This place has a mile long beach with lots of high rise structures nearby. The long beach was crowded, and the area near it was jammed full of tourist shops. Not my scene but it is for many.
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    Parking there was hard to find
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    And this is what happens when you are checking out bathing suits and driving at the same time
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    They left the cars right there until the cops came. It took 5 minutes to do whatever they did - and everyone was on their way again

    Attached Files:

    #64
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  5. Quindio

    Quindio Adventurer Supporter

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    "Ok - I think Santa Marta is covered. Time to go exploring. The first destination is Rodadero, only a half hour ride to the South. Very popular for people with money."

    It's the other way around. Rodadero is where most of the locals stay and Santa Marta is mostly tourists. You'll find cheaper places to stay in Rodadero and a better beach. The best beach to relax for the day is on the other side of Santa Marta at Tayrona Park.
    #65
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  6. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    This is the menu at a restaurant in Rodadero, right by the beach. Prices are 1.5 to 2 times what you pay inland. Very good food and service though.

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    This was my lunch
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    One thing I never saw before... but I saw again elsewhere.... is the presentation of dead fish on a platter. You can choose your fish.

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    This place had a few street entertainers come in and do their thing. Mostly they stay outside by the outside tables. If they are any good they get tips. I video taped one of them but am having trouble uploading video. The restaurant was very busy, with full tables. I was at a small table by myself. A lady who was also alone came in and asked to sit with me. No problema. She was very nice.
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  7. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Beach cops. Don't run from them or they will have a heart attack. Just kidding.... or not ?
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    #67
  8. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Great report! Love all the small details you include, like the bottlecaps or the chutes.
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  9. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    You are probably right. I looked it up in Lonely Planet and they dont even mention Rodadero. I don't think I ever saw any place overwhemed with foreign tourists. It was always mostly Colombians.

    Tayrona National Park is a top destination near Santa Marta, famous for great beaches. I wanted to go but had two destinations in mind that day. The other was Palomino Beach. Both are in the same direction (North) with Tayrona being the closer one. So I stopped at the entrance to check prices. I had heard different stories about that from different people.

    They told me $50 US to enter the park. $10 more for the bike. $9 more to park the bike. And $3 for insurance. And it had to be cash. No credit cards. After you park it is still a two hour walk to the beach. I was not carrying enough cash for that so that left more time for Palomino. Coverage of that comes later though, since I went to Taganga and Minca next.
    #69
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  10. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    $72.00 to see a national park? That $50,00 sounds like an annual pass?
    #70
  11. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Nope . $72 for the day. I just checked a writeup on the park dated in 2018. They say $20 to enter the park - gringo price. That is already outdated. I was told $50 by a security guard at the gate and that was confirmed at the ticket counter. The review I read also mentioned a requirement of a yellow fever shot, starting in 2017. That was not mentioned when I was there last month. And that would be a non-starter for me. I am not big on medical quackery. And really object to being told what risks I am allowed to take.

    Mosquitos were never an issue, as far as I could see. I only heard, but did not even see, only one little one in all of Colombia. That one was in my bunk in Santa Marta. I was told Minca has a lot of mosquitos. BS. I was there twice and never saw one. And I went much further into the jungle - way past Minca, on a rough dirt road.
    The Viajero Hostel in Santa Marta was fumigated once while I was there. They drove a pickup, with a gas powered fumingator in the back, right into the yard. Asked me to move my bike out onto the street, which I did. That stinky, poisonous, fumigation was a bigger health hazard than any bugs I saw or heard.

    Tayrona Park bills itself as an eco destination. They close the park frequently because of that. The ridiculous admission price is a better way to contol the number of visitors , in my opinion. If it were private property, that would be the only moral way to do it, assuming the ecological reason is valid.

    Personally, Tayrona dropped a few notches in desireability for me. I recommend nearby Palomino instead. No charge, huge, and very pretty.
    #71
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  12. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Next up is Taganga. I am always looking at following the coastline but to the North is very mountainous and i could not find a way by just looking. Usually the hillside near a town is where the poor houses are and it may not be the best place to snoop around. I did it anyway and did not find a way through for a while, running into numerous dead ends. At the hostel, the reception desk suggested Taganga, and that was in the direction I was looking. Google maps was my friend and I found the way through with that. It was just a little residential street like all the others at first.

    Taganga is known as a scuba diving destination, and it has a lot of hostels. I didn't know that until I got there. Like any typical man, I read directions only if all else fails. Taganga is a small village - no high rise buildings - but Lonely Planet has a substantial section on it. It is the last town going North before Tayrona Park, which is very big.

    You go up the mountain and over a pass. Near the top on the other side is an overlook where you can see the bay and the town. I noticed some land for sale among those houses on the hillside in the foreground
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    And looking out to sea. What a view ! That little beach at the bottom belongs to a resort. You can stay there.
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    And looking inland from the overlook is this house. I would like to live there.

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    And a lunch table tree next to the overlook.
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    Attached Files:

    #72
  13. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    This is the beach in Taganga. The boat is loaded with tourists heading for the beaches in Tayrona. I guess this is one way to avoid the two hour walk from the parking lot. I understand that there are park rangers there that will collect your money so this is no way to avoid that.

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    I rode around town some. The road quality was not that great. This is typical - not a particularly bad spot. Fine for a bike, but you have to pick your line.

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    There are a lot of scuba diving excursions offered here

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    This guy is carrying stuff out to the boat for the tourists. Hands full ? Just put it on your head.

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    Nice aluminum land rover on the beach. Seeing this is when I first realized that this is a dive destination.

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    It's not perfect. Check out the gas cap

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    #73
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  14. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Yes, people swim at Taganga beach. The bay is somewhat protected from the open ocean and the water is calmer than elsewhere.

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    First time I saw pay toilets in Colombia. Not all bad. I was not in there but hopefully the 30 cent charge is paying to keep them clean
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    This guy had a reasonably good day fishing

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    You already know I like to eat. This is a restaurant on the beach. They have a hawker who tries to pull you in as you walk by. I did not go in on the first pass. But I did on the way back.
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    This is the ktichen. Very clean and organized.

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    My soup and a fish meal. Cool story about the water, which I was carrying with me. This meal was less than a third of what I paid for a similar meal in Rodadero. And the restaurant was not just across the street from the beach. It was ON the beach. The rice is " arroz con coco" - looks a little different but tastes like regular white rice to me. The round tan things are plantain, flattened to that shape and deep fried. They are usually kind of hard (semi-crispy) when done like that. I prefer when they slice plantains the long way and fry them lightly. That way they are soft and sweet, with a carmel flavor.
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    The water was bought at a local store. I was trying to get rid of my change as well as stay hydrated. Coins take up a lot of space considering their low value. And it is usually inconvenient to count them out when buying something. I got a small leather coin purse for them and it gets heavy sometimes. At the store I dumped it out on the counter and started sorting to get rid of the smaller ones first. The lady caught on right away and helped me out. She ended up with a small handfull of metal.
    Gracias , SeƱora.

    Attached Files:

    #74
  15. SteveTheLocal

    SteveTheLocal Been here awhile Supporter

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    When you get back to Bogata, take the walking tour of the street art. Very interesting as the artists took great pains to hide symbols and political messages within the art piece. Too obvious and it would be whitewashed over within a day. All artists were using nom du plumes, but many were well known artists and educators within high society, making what social statements they could while risking their lives and or liberty, to speak out. Fascinating, particularly considering how quickly things changed.
    Another Canuck with their 2 cents worth. Keep up the good work.
    #75
  16. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Thank you Steve for that suggestion. That kind of thing is my reward for writing this. More please.

    Being an anarchist, I think government is the problem. And most politics are wrong. But our principles are such that we want everyone to live as they see fit. Not necessarily what we think is best, but what they think is best. I am always interested in seeing how others want to live, so this walking tour would be very interesting. Is there a guide to point out the hidden messages ?

    Someone suggested the bicycle tour. It turns out Bogota has a very developed bike path system. At first I thought it would be too easy, my being a former (very successful) mountain bike racer and motorcycle competitor. But I am going to do it. I think it is likely I will learn something new.

    The street art in Colombia (and much of South America) is real art. I could fill the entire ride report with it. I find it interesting that our "civilized" countries feature really stupid graffiti instead. These southern countries deserve a lot more credit.
    #76
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  17. vicmitch

    vicmitch Been here awhile

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    On your way back to Bogota, stop in San Gil. Great white water rafting. I enjoyed your video, never passed on the right though. My bike was always in the sweet spot if first gear when following trucks so I could snap the throttle open shoot past instantly.

    For service you can go to a Bajaj place as the Bajaj Dominate 400 uses the same engine.

    A pic colombia 028.JPG from my time in Bogota
    #77
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  18. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Great to hear from you Vicmitch. I read your excellent ride report from 2015 a few years back. Time flies.

    The video of passing in trafifc is not mine, but I have done all of those moves, and then some. That video goes on for quite long , too. I usually take a break occasionally to let my heart rate go back to normal. You must be calm, cool and collected if you intend to survive.

    I admire your thinking outside the box, taking such a heavy and unusual bike on that run. But you never passed on the right ? How about in heavy stop and go in a city ? Or in the line behind a heavy truck going over speed bumps ? Passing on the right at speed is not my favorite either.

    Not getting full service (valve check) in Barranquilla, was one mistake I made (among many). I could not find a KTM dealer through google or in my service booklet. I was spoken to about that later. I should have looked at KTM.com. They list one there. Also, like you say, Bajaj uses very similar motors. I was a little concerned about sourcing an oil filter - they probably use the same one. In the future I will get a stainless steel filter, so that will never be an issue again. And I will not have to carry one.
    #78
  19. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    After Taganga I was back in Santa Marta at my favorite hostel . Walking the beach is one of my favorite activities. You can easily walk there from the hostel, but I usually rode - just because I can. Here are some kids that caught some sea life. It looks to me like a skinny black octopus. He threw it over the pier so it would not be among the swimmers. These kids were doing a run off the pier, and then a flip into the water. Sorry, , no video.
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    The hostel had several activies listed on the board in the lobby. All were free. One was a walk around town. I am such a loner - I think group activities are too tame. I probably missed something good because of my attitude.

    Another activity was dancing lessons. There was African dance and Salsa on different evenings. One of the attendants at the reception desk was Carlos. He was very friendly, maybe too much so. I was calling myself Carlos (the Spanish equivalent of Charles) all over Colombia until I met him. Anyway, Carlos invited me to the Salsa class. I said I would only be interested if there were women there. So he said he would make sure there was one there for me. I do not dance well - and not Salsa at all - but I thought it would be educational.

    So I went. It was at the bar on the rooftop. Only four guys showed up. All (except me) had taken some salsa lessons before. We had a young guy instruct us and he started with the basic steps. No partner required . The teacher was really good. I did what I could but I was exhausted after about 20 minutes. The floor around me was all wet with sweat. The other guys were still going strong and stuck out the full hour. I hardly ever drink alcohol, but I took a seat and drank beer while watching.
    #79
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  20. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    The next day trip was to Palomino. It is a beach town to the Northeast of Tayrona Park. It was the furthest North that I went. Took almost half a tank of gas. I looked for Extra fuel there but was told that the closest place to get it was Santa Marta. So that meant I could go no further. Since then I have bought two 10 liter fuel bladders. With them I can carry 8 gallons of fuel. That ought to get me anywhere I want to go. But I am researching the fuel situation. Only one person ever told me I had to use Extra fuel. I cannot find anything on the internet about it. And I have not spoken with any other KTM pilots about it yet.
    Maybe someone reading this knows something about that ?

    The ride to Palomino was really nice. Smooth road, very little traffic, and views of the ocean. I pulled over once along the way to do some scouting on foot. And took my favorite picture of the Duke so far :

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    #80